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June 2010 – Sue McDougall

Recent rain has ensured the garden gets a good soaking before the weather really starts to cool down. It also ensures the weeds get off to a good start. If there is only one job you do this month – it’s weeding!  Weeding is the number one chore that people who hate gardening quote as the reason they don’t garden.

Start to control weeds early. When the seedlings are small they are easier to deal with by either spraying with a weed killer or mulching over the area with a thick layer of mulch to suffocate them.

There are plenty of fantastic fun jobs you can do in the garden this month. On a cool wintry day there is no better way to get the blood flowing, the heart pumping and to warm yourself up than a little time in the garden.

Jobs to Do

Re-apply mulch in areas that are bare or where the mulch has broken down. With only limited water it is essential we use as many water saving measures as possible. Mulch will retain moisture in the soil so it gets to the plants roots and where there is a thick layer of mulch there is less chance of weeds germinating.

It’s time to re-apply a wetting agent. This product will stop the water running off the soil surface and down the street. WA soils are some of the worst in the world for water not soaking in and it is crucial to the health of the garden that a wetting agent is applied. This can be used monthly in very “hard to wet” soil and it will not have any detrimental effects on plant growth at all. After the recent rain I bet there are areas in the garden that are dry under the soil surface. These are the areas that need a wetting agent.

Damp nights at this time of the year go hand in hand with black spot and powdery mildew on roses. In bad cases they can be sprayed, but if there are only a few leaves damaged, it is not the end of the world and can just be plucked off.  Be sure to keep the rose well fed and healthy. A healthy plant can cope with an attack of a pest or disease more successfully than a sick, struggling plant.

A long weekend may give a few more people a chance to get stuck into some jobs in the garden. Resist the urge to prune the garden shrubs that look a little spindly and straggly. As a general guide, prune shrubs after their main flowering flush because this is when they are in an active growth phase.

WA grows warm climate grass varieties very successfully but in autumn, when the days cool off, the lawn varieties start to yellow. If you give the lawn a light feed now with a quality lawn fertiliser or Wintergreen it will get the lawn growing strong before the winter sets in fully. Usually I would recommend a little earlier than this but we have had a warm May and only a few cold days so the soil is still warm.

Seriously though, throw some fertiliser around before a shower of rain and let the rain wash it in.

Plant a punnet of lettuce in a large pot at the back door in a sunny position so that the leaves can be plucked for fresh salads in a matter of seconds.

Spread some controlled release fertiliser around pots and liquid fertiliser with an organic soluble fertiliser such as Powerfeed or Nitrosol.

Garden centres are filling fast with bare rooted, new season, ornamental and fruiting trees. First in best dressed, these plants never last long and some varieties are hard to get hold of. The other reason for purchasing early and planting in the ground immediately is that the plant has less of a chance to dry out or be damaged if it is safely tucked into the soil in your garden.

Protect young plants that may be affected by the cold weather by either spraying with Drought Shield or making a cover around with clear plastic. Drought Shield is a water-based polymer product that will protect plants from cold weather. It is great for young tropical trees. Using Seasol as a foliar application (leaf spray) will also help plants through cold weather.

Plant Now

Scaevola ‘Mauve Clusters’ is a small growing ground cover that is in full flower at this time of the year. Massed with small mauve-blue flowers this ground cover is perfect for rockeries or mass planting to add some colour to a dull garden.

Take to the perennial garden with a sharp spade and bread knife. It is time to lift and divide plants such as agapanthus, rhubarb, coreopsis, kniphofia and liriope. Be sure to split them where there is a natural separation in the plant and re-plant them in well-improved soil with a controlled release fertiliser and a small handful of ‘blood and bone’ fertiliser.

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